I’ll give you all the details of why, how, etc. over three posts — all this week.
Thinking About Retirement
In case you all haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing a lot lately about retirement.
And not just retirement in general, but my retirement specifically.
For example, consider these posts:
- Various Forms of Retirement Income
- A Different Retirement Plan
- Four Steps to Determine Your Retirement Number
In the second one especially it started to hit me that I really did have enough to retire now. Not someday, but NOW!
Combine that with a few other factors and the time just seemed right. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today we’ll set the scene. To do that let’s go back in time a year or so…
Moving to Colorado
Just to be sure everyone is up to speed, in the spring of last year I was let go from my job when a new CEO came in and decided he didn’t want a president around.
It took me a couple months to find a new job which I started in the summer of 2015. My family followed in September as the whole clan moved from Oklahoma to Colorado.
The new position was rosy at first as any honeymoon phase is at a new place. But it didn’t take long for me to see that I wasn’t long for the company. And when I say it didn’t take long, I mean that I knew within the first few months that I wasn’t going to be there long-term.
How did I know this? Here are a few reasons:
- They had recruited me to turn around a perennially under-performing division. In doing this, they said they wanted a take-charge executive who didn’t need or want any direction. All I had to do was go and “make it happen.” That’s what they said. The reality was that my boss (owner and CEO/president) was a micro-manager who wanted someone to simply take orders. And not just on big, strategic things either. He wanted to micro-manage everything — down to the smallest detail. I knew it was more than I could bear for long.
- One day as I brought these issues up to him, he reacted in a hostile manner. I was not rude or insubordinate, but I did tell him that I wanted him to let me run the division. He basically told me that my team was made up of idiots and needed someone to watch them at all moments. In addition, he wondered why I would ever question him. He asked, “Don’t you want me involved?” to which I replied that I did, in various areas (which I listed), but not in other areas. He twisted this as me saying he had nothing to offer and again was hostile. But I stood my ground. We left the initial conversation on tough terms but he knew where I stood.
- He made several big impact strategic decisions against my advice. I know I was new, but there are basic business principles you just don’t break. And he broke them. Despite my advice (with supporting data) as well as that of other executives in the company supporting me, he decided against our wishes. This was just a few months into my employment and his decisions would eventually be something I would have to deal with.
- I was constantly given “urgent/drop everything” tasks that he said were vital and yet the company had been operating without them for years. Have you ever heard someone described as “majoring in the minors”? This describes him to a “T”.
Now I’ve been around the block a few times so I knew that the job would not be as great as presented in the interview process. They never are. But the reality was way worse than I thought. Years of mismanagement and poor practices had impacted every area of the division and it was a mess.
Still, I was up for this challenge if I was given the freedom and time to address it. But I was not.
In the end, there’s an old business saying that sums up my situation perfectly:
“People join companies, but they leave managers.”
The New Year
As we entered 2016, it was my first year in charge of our financials. And my goal was clear: hit our agreed upon budget numbers for net income. That was it. It was what my quarterly bonus was based on and what my boss told me I should focus on.
At the same time we launched a major (or should I say MAJOR) product that changed just about everything about our business. It had been worked on for two years and had been developed with zero consumer feedback. In other words, we launched something we didn’t know if our customers wanted or not. Yikes!
In addition, the product didn’t work correctly, had major performance issues, and had hidden costs that we should have foreseen but did not.
It was so far down the road when I arrived on the scene that there was no stopping it — or even adjusting much. That train had already left the station.
Ahead of Plan
That said, it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Our sales were poor (below budget) but because my team controlled our expenses we actually made our first quarter profit numbers and I received my bonus. Thank you very much!
In addition, my boss did step back a bit in his micro-management. Not all the way mind you, but it was better.
But the situation was about to get far worse.
To read about that, check out My Retirement Story, Part 2.